Updated Top 10 Prospects (Post Ozuna Trade): Miami Marlins: A System Slowly Improving

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Marlins were already considered to own one of the worst farm systems in baseball, yet they still thought it was a prudent decision to trade Luis Castillo prior to ’17. How does that look today? If he were still part of the system he would be the clear top-rated prospect, and even after trading away Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton that remains the case. The two moves did add a few new names to the Top 10, including a new #1, but the system still is lacking. Let’s take a look:

 

1) Nick Neidert – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

Selected in the second round of the 2015 draft, Neidert appeared to take a significant step forward in High-A as he posted a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 104.1 IP while showing enough in all three skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 9.40 K/9
  • Walks – 1.47 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 42.4%

His control has been tremendous since the day he was selected, with a 1.6 BB/9 over 254.0 IP. However when he was pushed to Double-A last season (23.1 IP) his strikeouts dropped again (5.01 K/9) and home runs became an issue (1.54 HR/9). It was a small sample size and his 14.2% SwStr% at High-A gives plenty of hope for his strikeout rate. In other words there does appear to be something here.

The bigger issue could be an ultimate conversion to the bullpen, as there are questions regarding his ability to hold up to a full-time workload (he’s listed at 6’1” and 180 lbs.). That will be interesting to watch, but given his control, strikeout potential and enough groundballs, plus the move to the NL East, the 21-year old could make an impact before long. He’s not an ace, but he has mid-rotation upside.

 

2) Trevor Rogers – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

Rogers had previously sat atop these rankings, though basically by default. The 2017 first round pick (13th overall) has not yet thrown a professional pitch and there are questions about his pure stuff. Reports have his fastball sitting in the low 90s and his secondary stuff is still developing. He does have the size (6’6”), some deception and is a southpaw, and that’s all going to give him an opportunity. He could develop into a solid MLB starter, but a future ace is not a label we’d be willing to give.

 

3) Braxton Garrett – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

Garrett showed strong signs early in ’17, with 16 K vs. 6 BB over 15.1 IP, but that’s all we got from the seventh overall pick in 2016 after he was shelved and underwent Tommy John surgery. It’s a shame, as he certainly would’ve taken home the top spot if he had been healthy, and the fact that he’s still ranked #2 speaks to his upside as well as the state of the Marlins’ system.

He does take a hit in his grade, after being a B+ last season, thanks to the uncertainty in regards to his return from Tommy John surgery. While history tells us he should be alright, there are many examples of pitchers never being the same. Time will tell, but don’t lose hope.

 

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4) Jorge Guzman – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – 2019

One of two prospects acquired as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Guzman showed impressive stuff while at Low-A in ’17 with an 11.88 K/9 (courtesy of a 16.7% SwStr%), 2.43 BB/9 and 53.3% groundball rate. You can easily argue that he was old for the level, as he’s 21-years old, but Guzman has long been considered an intriguing prospect (who the Yankees acquired from the Astros in the Brian McCann trade).

With a fastball that reaches triple digits, there have already been whispers that he could fit better as a closer of the future. We’ll have to wait and see, but with the Marlins desperate for starting pitchers they should give him every opportunity to develop in the role.

 

5) Magnerius Sierra – Outfielder
Grade – B-
ETA – Already Arrived

Acquired as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade, Sierra got his feet wet in the Majors last season after being called up directly from Double-A.  While he seemed to present himself well, hitting .317, we have to keep in mind that it came courtesy of a .413 BABIP and his plate discipline was a bit exposed (12.4% SwStr%).  Considering his 11.0% SwStr% in the minors, spent mostly at Double-A (353 PA), and it’s hard not to be concerned.  It’s magnified that much more considering his complete lack of power thus far.  He does have difference making speed, and that’s going to give him upside and warrant our attention, but he needs to refine his approach if he wants to fully realize his potential.

 

6) Sandy Alcantara – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – Already Arrived

Another piece of the Marcell Ozuna trade, Alcantara reached the Majors last season making 8 appearances out of the bullpen.  He struggled with his control while there (6.48 BB/9), and that’s just a continuation of what he’s been doing in the minors the past two years:

  • Single-A (90.1 IP) – 4.48 BB/9
  • High-A (32.1 IP) – 3.90 BB/9
  • Double-A (125.1 IP) – 3.88 BB/9

He also didn’t generate many groundballs while at Double-A (44.8%) and struggled with home runs during his time in the Majors (2.16 HR/9).  There’s swing and miss stuff and upside in the 22-year old, but you also have to wonder if he’s ultimately ticketed for the bullpen or if he can solve the two obvious flaws.

 

7) Dillon Peters – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – Already Arrived

He struggled to a 5.17 ERA over 31.1 IP in his first taste of the Majors, and that’s going to cause many to look away. He also generated a 63.3% groundball rate, after a 50.0% mark in the minors in ’17, and has shown an ability to generate swings and misses (11.6% SwStr% in the minors). Couple that with pinpoint control, despite a 5.46 BB/9 in the Majors (1.9 BB/9 over 236.2 IP in the minors), and it’s obvious that there’s upside. Further skewing things is his size, as he’s listed at just 5’9”, and consistent injury issues (he’s already had Tommy John surgery and missed time in ’17 after breaking his thumb) that have delayed his ascent (he’s now 25-years old).

Peters may require some time at Triple-A, having jumped to the Majors after 68.1 IP at Double-A split between ’16 and ’17, and that could cause others to ignore him. Of course how far his stock rises remains to be seen and his overall upside is limited.

 

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8) Brian Anderson – Third Baseman
Grade – C+
ETA – Already Arrived

On the surface things looked good for Anderson, hitting .275 with 22 HR in 429 AB split between Double and Triple-A. The number is skewed by an unsustainable 19.7% strikeout rate, which came despite a 12.0% SwStr%, as well as a .376 BABIP at Triple-A that led to a .339 AVG. He was exposed a bit in his 95 PA in the Majors, where he posted a 29.5% strikeout rate courtesy of a 12.8% SwStr%.

While there is some pop, he only added 21 doubles and 3 triples in the minors and his home ballpark isn’t going to be conducive to power. It looks like he profiles as more of a .250ish/20 HR type player, especially as it’s hard to project further growth from the 24-year old (he’ll turn 25 in May).

 

9) Tyler Kolek – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019

Tommy John surgery has cost him virtually two years of his development, losing all of 2016 and being limited to 3.2 innings last season. The second overall pick back in 2014, he brings the potential to be the top prospect in the system as he can generate both strikeouts and groundballs. His health and control are the significant questions, and we’ll get a good feel for those early in 2018. Could he ultimately become a “B+” type prospect with top of the rotation stuff? It’s absolutely possible, though hardly a given. Consider him high risk, high reward.

 

10) Daniel Castano – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019

A 22-year old throwing 91.0 innings at Low-A will obviously have questions, but one of the four pieces acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade certainly put up some intriguing skills:

  • 1% SwStr%
  • 29 BB/9
  • 9% Groundball Rate

At the very least, those make him worth keeping a close eye on as he could move quickly.

 

Keep An Eye On
Thomas Jones – Outfielder (Grade – C)
He was a “C+” a year ago and ranked #6 in the system, and the athleticism is clearly there. He needs time, though, and 94 K over 238 AB (32.2%) at Low-A shows it. It’s a high ceiling, but an extremely low floor.

Trevor Richards – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
He’s 24-years old and could ultimately profile as a reliever given questionable stuff, but over 146.0 IP he posted a 9.74 K/9, 1.85 BB/9 and 54.5% groundball rate. Don’t be a surprised if he starts garnering more attention and gets an opportunity to make an impact in ’18.7)

 

Dropped Off The Rankings:

  • Brian Miller – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
  • Chris Torres – Shortstop (Grade – C+)
  • James Nelson – Third Baseman (Grade – C)
  • Merandy Gonzalez – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
  • Jeff Brigham – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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